Founded by Léon Breitling in 1884 in a small factory in St-Imier in Switzerland, Breitling has since grown into one of the most sought-after Swiss watch brands. From the outset, the brand’s special area of interest always lay more in the direction of technical equipment and measuring instruments for science rather than decoration or jewllery. Ironically, in hindsight, it is these less glamorous aspirations that have played a significant part in the company’s watches becoming highly fashionable. Amongst the first watch manufacturers to offer a wrist-worn chronograph to a mainstream commercial market in the early twentieth century, Breitling’s range of products originally aimed at capturing military and technical professional clients soon found new private consumers.
Breitling had already established itself as ‘the official supplier to world aviation’ by the 1950’s. Then it took a dive, literally, into the ocean. In 1957, the brand launched a new marine watch with which it hoped to replicate its success in the air, underwater. The Superocean, originally designed with professional and military divers in mind, came equipped with an ultra-readable dial, an armoured glass face and a monohull case water-resistant to 200m. Within a short period of time it became the essential professional diver’s watch and later much sought after by sporty men with rugged hobbies and busy lifestyles who preferred a watch that signaled activity rather than effete sophistication.
This year has seen Breitling update the classic Superocean watch. Water-resistant to 1500m and powered by a self-winding chronograph, the reinvigorated Superocean has a younger and leaner feel. With a nicely tactile rubber bezel and sloping numerals that stand out clear against the matt black background under all conditions, the Superocean retains the sturdy and technical nature –and hip cool- of the original. The colour choices for the beveled inner bezel are blue, red, yellow, silver or black and the case is constructed from a steel alloy that is particularly resistant to corrosion, manufactured through a process that uses a succession of high-pressure stamping and firing operations that fortify its endurance. All in all, there are very few, even amongst the most technically minded of consumers, who would be silly enough to dispute that this is one high-end piece of wearable technology.
Equally importantly, the new Superocean comes with a choice of straps since we all know that even if the customer is a professional diver – a minority of those who choose to wear it these days – it’s all about the look. Two of the strap options are in rubber; one in the tradition of the 1960’s Ocean Racer Strap with its signature round perforations, the other a nifty ridged option that updates the look. And, there is also a chunky chain link option for those who prefer metal to keep time in place.